Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate minority leader. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – United States Senator Chuck Schumer released a statement on Wednesday supporting an independent Kurdish state after 93 percent of people in Kurdistan voted in favor of independence from Iraq in Monday’s referendum.
“Monday’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan should be recognized and respected by the world, and the Kurdish people of northern Iraq have my utmost support,” he stated. “I believe the Kurds should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Kurds for an independent state."
Democrat Schumer is the Senate minority leader.
He said that the Kurds have been one of America’s “strongest and most supportive partners on the ground in the fight against terrorism, and we have relied on the Peshmerga time and time again,” adding the Kurds have also stood up for the rights of minorities in the Kurdistan Region.
Schumer stated that the US should stand for self-determination for the Kurds, the largest ethnic group in the Middle East without a homeland.
“Despite this, the Kurds continue to get a raw deal and are told to wait for tomorrow, which is why it’s past due that the world, led by the United States, immediately back a political process to address the aspirations of the Kurds,” the statement read.
He encouraged the Iraqi government to engage in dialogue to peacefully determine the best way to accommodate the “well-deserved and legitimate aspirations of the Iraqi Kurds.”
Schumer also encouraged continued cooperation between the Kurdish and Iraqi forces in the fight against terrorism as well as encouraging respect from countries bordering the Kurdistan region.
“Iraq’s neighboring countries, however, led by despots who all oppose a Kurdish State because it threatens the status quo of their self-interests, need to respect the need for the Kurds – and the Iraqis – to determine their own future,” he added.
While Kurds would love to have American support, the US has officially opposed the referendum, urging Erbil and Baghdad to engage in talks and focus on the war against ISIS.
Kurdish officials have maintained, however, that unofficially there is much more support for their independence aspirations.
On Monday evening, as people cast their ballots, US Congressman Trent Franks
introduced legislation to support Kurdistan’s right of self-determination.